Updated on November 17, 2023
9 min read

Inpatient Drug Rehab: What It Is and How It Works

What is an Inpatient Drug Rehab Program?

Inpatient rehab is a type of intensive treatment for substance addiction. In this setting, you live at the facility for your treatment. 

You receive 24-hour services in a highly structured environment. These services include medication management, recovery skills, and relapse prevention.1 

The staff is a full team consisting of doctors, addiction experts, counselors, social workers, and clinicians. Treatment intensity can vary depending on your needs and the facility's approach.

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How Much Does Inpatient Treatment Cost?

A 30-day stay at a residential treatment center costs around $6,000, but prices can be more expensive for more well-known facilities. Some centers charge up to $20,000 for a month-long stay. 

For 60 or 90-day programs, the cost is $12,000 to $80,000.For high-profile people or celebrities seeking anonymity, centers often charge as much as $120,000.

Inpatient addiction treatment costs vary greatly, and facilities with high reputations can be pricey. The time you spend at a treatment center also affects the price.

What Factors Affect the High Cost of Addiction Treatment?

Inpatient treatment is more expensive than any outpatient treatment. Various factors influence the cost, including:

  • Facility location
  • Amenities
  • Treatment duration

Some inpatient drug rehab centers accept insurance. Check with your insurance provider about inpatient rehab coverage.

Other options include Medicaid, Medicare, private financing, and state-funded rehab for those without insurance.

Does Insurance Cover Inpatient Treatment?

Yes, SUD and AUD are medical diseases accredited health insurance providers must cover in the U.S. Depending on the policies and state specifics, many insurance companies cover at least a portion or pay the entirety of the rehab costs.

Many inpatient care facilities also offer financing options so you can pay for their services over time rather than all at once. The types of insurance people often to attend inpatient rehab are:

  • State-financed insurance
  • Medicare or Medicaid
  • Private insurance 
  • Military insurance

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What Are Alternatives to Inpatient Treatment?

You may consider intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) or partial hospitalization if inpatient treatment is restrictive or expensive.

  • Intensive outpatient programs: Involve 9 to 19 hours of weekly treatment sessions. You can do these during the day, evening, or weekend.
  • Partial hospitalization programs: Include at least 20 hours of weekly sessions. They are best for people with unstable medical and psychiatric conditions.

These services are one step below inpatient treatment in the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s (ASAM) levels of care. They’re more intensive than outpatient treatment but provide comparable effectiveness to inpatient programs.

Difference Between Inpatient and Residential Care

Inpatient treatment and residential care are similar but have some key differences. People live, eat, and sleep in residential treatment, but onsite medical care is less comprehensive than inpatient rehab. 

To attend residential or inpatient treatment, you must check yourself into a facility full-time. You then become a full-time treatment center resident.

Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment requires people to live full-time in the facility for 24/7 medical supervision. On the other hand, outpatient treatment programs don't.

In outpatient treatment, you can keep attending school, working, or seeing friends while getting treatment. Signing up for outpatient treatment may be ideal if you struggle with less severe addiction or substance abuse. You can also use it as an aftercare plan after inpatient treatment.

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How Do Inpatient Programs Work?

The goal of inpatient treatment is to complete recovery with little to no chance of relapse.

Throughout treatment, you’ll experience the following:

  • An intensive daily schedule for therapies and activities
  • 24-hour medical supervision
  • Professional clinical staff, doctors, and counselors
  • Time for relaxation and reflection
  • Learning skills for recovery, sobriety, and relapse prevention
  • Assistance in managing withdrawal symptoms

You live at the facility during treatment to avoid things that might lead to drug use, keeping minimal contact with the outside world. You can only bring a small bag, and most places don't allow cell phones.

What to Expect During Inpatient Rehab

Here are some things to expect when you enter inpatient treatment:

1. Medical Screening

This happens on the first day and takes a few hours. Screening includes an interview so the medical staff can make your treatment plan.5

2. Detoxification

During detoxification (detox), the body removes drugs from your system. You’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms during this stage. 

Your body has become used to drugs, so it must adjust to their absence. Withdrawal symptoms often include nausea, hallucinations, and seizures. The staff and doctors will help you get through detox safely and comfortably. 

Which Medications and Supplements Are Used During Detox?

In some cases of withdrawal management, medical professionals prescribe medications and supplements, including:4, 6, 7, 8

  • Naltrexone, methadone, buprenorphine, lofexidine, and clonidine (for opioids)
  • Diazepam (for benzodiazepine, meth, and cocaine)
  • B vitamins and vitamin C

3. Structured Rehab Care

After detox, you move to structured rehab care. This stage is less intense but still has a structured routine.4, 6, 9 

Expect little control over your schedule upon entering inpatient rehab. Although some may find this rigid routine challenging, it helps you maintain focus and stay on track. 

Your daily routine in this stage typically encompasses:

  • Therapy
  • Counseling
  • Medical treatments
  • Other structured activities

4. After Inpatient Addiction Treatment

You’ll proceed to outpatient treatment after you leave inpatient rehab. You can attend support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Cocaine Anonymous (CA), or others. You can also continue meeting with a counselor.5

How Long is Inpatient Rehab?

The typical durations are 30, 60, or 90 days. However, certain people need to spend more time in rehab. This includes people with:

  • Severe addictions
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Undergone addiction treatment in the past 

Where Can You Receive Inpatient Rehab Treatment?

Two distinct settings can provide inpatient rehab:

  • Acute Care Facility or Hospital Section: This setting is suitable for severe cases of addiction where immediate medical attention and care are necessary.
  • Residential Care: This more relaxed setting provides accommodation and basic nursing support. However, it doesn’t cater to severe medical problems, which occur in 5% of withdrawal cases.

What are the Types of Inpatient Treatment Programs?

Different types of residential treatments exist, including:4,6

  • Therapeutic communities (TC): People live at the facility for 6 to 12 months. Residents and staff work together to create change. Residents follow a highly structured schedule of counseling, chores, exercise, and other activities.10 
  • Short-term residential treatment: This is brief but involves a more intensive program. It comprises 3 to 6 weeks of hospital-based therapy and a modified 12-step program.9
  • Recovery housing: This involves supervised, short-term housing that follows other residential treatments. It aims to help you transition to living on your own. Staff teach life skills like money management and getting a job.

What Amenities are Offered in Rehab Facilities?

Rehab facilities differ in the amenities they offer. While some provide basic comforts, such as shared rooms and cafeteria-style meals, others might offer luxury services

These services can include:

  • Private suites
  • Gourmet meals
  • Exclusive amenities like private pools or tennis courts

Is Inpatient Rehab For You?

No single alcohol or drug addiction treatment plan works for everyone. While one option may work for one person, it may not work for you. 

But inpatient treatment may work if you:2,3

  • Have a severe level of addiction
  • Are addicted to multiple drugs
  • Have co-occurring depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions
  • Are at high risk of withdrawal
  • Have relapsed before
  • Have no healthy or supportive home environment or relationships for recovery
  • Have tried less intensive treatment but failed to achieve abstinence 

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What Are The Pros and Cons of Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient treatment provides the following benefits:

  • Medical and nutritional support: Medical professionals ensure people are safe and comfortable during detox and addiction treatment. Nutrition specialists help people with special dietary needs.
  • Structured setting: The organized environment helps people focus on recovery. There are no triggers or negative influences to encourage drug use. 
  • Sense of community: Support groups facilitate relationships among people with similar experiences. They help and encourage each other to change negative behaviors.
  • Aftercare: Medical professionals provide the necessary tools and support for you to live a healthy life after leaving inpatient rehab.

The disadvantages of inpatient treatment include:

  • Inpatient rehab is more expensive than outpatient addiction treatment
  • People aren’t able to tend to any responsibilities during their stay
  • Leaving the inpatient facility can shock their system and lead to relapses

How to Find the Right Rehab Program

Call your insurance provider to help you find an inpatient treatment center. You can also check the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) directories. 

When checking out inpatient treatment centers, ask the following questions: 

  • What types of drug addictions does the program treat?  
  • What medication-assisted treatment does the program offer for withdrawal? 
  • What peer group programs does the program offer?
  • Does the facility provide treatment for co-occurring disorders?
  • Does the facility have aftercare and sober living options?
  • What qualifications do the staff and health professionals have? 
  • Is the rehab facility licensed and accredited? 
  • How much does inpatient addiction treatment cost? 
  • What are the payment options (insurance and non-insurance)? 
  • What are the facility’s expectations regarding their residents (like phone use, personal belongings, and family visits)?

What Factors Lead to Inpatient or Outpatient Recommendations?

Based on the evaluation, the evaluator will likely recommend inpatient rehab if you:

  • Struggle with severe addiction and co-occurring conditions
  • Lack social support
  • Face unstable housing
  • Have no transportation access

However, if they don’t meet inpatient treatment criteria, the evaluator may suggest outpatient treatment.1,4

What Is The Hardest Part Of Rehab?

Besides taking medication and dealing with substance use withdrawal, there are other hurdles to overcome.

Here are some of the hardest things you’ll have to face while in rehab:

  • Dealing with withdrawal: The most challenging part of rehab is dealing with withdrawal's emotional and physical side effects. It can be difficult to endure but necessary for successful recovery.
  • Adjusting to life in rehab: You may also find adjusting to life away from home and loved ones challenging. It can be a significant source of anxiety and fear during inpatient treatment.
  • Changes in routines: Disruption to your usual routine may be difficult. The schedule of regular activities, check-ins, and sessions can be overwhelming at first.

As you progress through inpatient treatment and practice coping skills for addiction recovery, these struggles become easier to manage.

How Do Specialists Determine the Best Treatment Option for You?

Doctors or addiction specialists can help you choose the best addiction treatment through an evaluation. They may ask about:2,3

  • History of drug use, treatment, and relapse
  • Co-occurring medical or mental health conditions
  • Financial, living, and personal situations
  • Outlook and attitude (like motivation to change)
  • Available support from family and friends


Inpatient treatment is an effective way to deal with addiction and substance abuse. This intensive program requires you to live in the facility for 24/7 medical supervision.

Although expensive, many insurance companies cover some of inpatient treatment’s costs. If it’s not your ideal recovery method, alternatives include intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) or partial hospitalization.

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Updated on November 17, 2023
11 sources cited
Updated on November 17, 2023
  1. Overview of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Care Clinical Guidelines: A Resource for States Developing SUD Delivery System Reforms.” Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program, 2017. 
  2. Treatment Settings.” National Alliance on Mental Illness.
  3. Common Comorbidities with Substance Use Disorders Research Report: Introduction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021.
  4. Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018. 
  5. Inpatient vs. Outpatient: Comparing Two Types of Patient Care.” Saint George’s University School of Medicine, 2021.
  6. Treatment.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2023.
  7. Martin, K. “ Detoxification: the evidence on setting and intervention.” Health Research Board, 2012.
  8. Substance withdrawal management” Government of South Australia.
  9. Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014.
  10. Kowalchuk et al. “Therapeutic Community.” Science Direct, 2012.
  11. Find Treatment.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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